Just like humans, dogs crave – and need – affection and emotional interaction from their human friends. Showing your dog affection helps to establish a bond and, as such, a strong bond between owner and dog also helps to foster good dog behavior.
Figuring out how much love and attention to give your dog depends on your dog’s personality. You, as the owner, probably know best what type of affection your dog likes and when to show it. Affection can be in the form of hugs, belly rubs, scratching, kissing, petting, snuggling, and/or communicating in soothing tones. A dog who craves affection may show it by exhibiting behaviors such as barking excessively, pawing at you, play-biting, nudging you with his/her nose, rolling on back (usually for a belly rub), whining, howling, chewing on shoes or other objects that are not chew toys.
Can you spoil your dog with too much affection? Maybe. But it’s better to err on the side of more affection than less. Giving affection to your dog helps to foster a healthy relationship and lets the dog know that they have a secure and loving place in your home. The beauty of being affectionate with your dog is that the benefits go both ways. Your dog will most likely listen to you (i.e., be a better-behaved pet) and reward you with kisses and cuddles. On the other hand, studies have shown that your loving interactions with your dog will help to lessen your anxiety, lower your heart rate, and increase the release of endorphins (hormones that make you feel good).
To sum it up, showing your dog affection on a regular basis will increase their sense of well-being, and yours as well!